by David Baldacci
With all of the interest in the current First Family in the White House, Baldacci's latest book has a catchy title. This time the Camel Club members are not on the scene but Baldacci brings back the duo of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell (former secret service agents) and other memorable characters. There are a number of subplots that are tracking along with the main story line of the kidnapping of the niece of the First Lady and the murder of the girl's mother. The First Lady engages King and Maxwell to locate her niece and find out what is behind the kidnapping since she is receiving cryptic letters at the local post office. Peeling back the layers of the story you encounter a second kidnapping victim, infidelity, national security issues, a vendetta that involves a character from Alabama, paternity questions, and a second murder. Baldacci is successful in leading you down a path and making you think that you know how the story is going to turn out but then he leads you right up to the last few pages before you start to pull all of the pieces together.
June 2009 Archives
by David Baldacci
House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street,
by William Cohan
Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street, by Kate Kelly
Two complementary books about the fall of the investment banking firm Bear Stearns--called the Rodney Dangerfield of Wall Street by some--are worth reading. William Cohan's House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street is the more comprehensive of the two. He offers a full history of the firm and its principals through its March 2008 demise, detailing how a combination of poor and inattentive governance, excessive risk, and many other factors lead to its fire sale to JP Morgan for less than the value of its headquarters. Whether you are a follower of Wall Street happenings or not, Cohan's journalist style makes this a page-turning read.
Equally engaging is Kate Kelly's much briefer account of just the last three days of the same events in Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street. It focuses, in even greater detail, on the last 72 hours that the firm, the Fed, the Treasury, and prospective buyers maneuvered to keep the collapse of Bear Stearns from causing greater damage to the financial markets. Both accounts offer an insider's view of the larger-than-life personalities that ran the firm and the free-wheeling, iconoclastic culture that led to its acquisition.
Beowulf: adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds,
by Gareth Hinds
If you have heard of graphic novels and wondered what all the fuss was about, why not start with Beowulf: adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds. This novel is a modern interpretation of the ancient story of Beowulf, a fearless warrior who becomes a hero by saving a Danish village from the terrifying monster Grendel. The illustrations are graphic depictions of the fierce battles and mythic settings while the text, written in modern English, conveys the drama and rhythm that characterizes the original work. Beowulf is believed to be the earliest poem written in the English language, but the story includes the timeless elements of battles, politics, villains, and of course, a hero.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wintergirls journeys into the mind of a teenage girl suffering from anorexia. Lia is a high school senior when her former best friend and fellow "skinny girl" is found dead in a hotel room. Although the attempts made by Lia's family to help her through her grief is presented through her own distorted point of view, the reader is given a clear view of Lia's relationship with food and the skill with which she disguises her destructive behavior as her disease progresses. Author Laurie Halse Anderson is the recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contribution to young adult literature.
Bad Lands, by Tony Wheeler
What an interesting book for readers who enjoy tales of travel! Tony Wheeler certainly is a pro at traveling as he is the cofounder of Lonely Planet and has contributed to many titles in that travel series. In this book, Wheeler recounts his travels through 9 countries that have been labeled as "bad lands" in today's world : Afghanistan, Albania, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. For each country, he has written a brief history and the reasons why they have received this negative connotation. As Wheeler relates his travel experiences in these "less than popular" tourist destinations, great sketches of life in each country are given as well as very entertaining writing about his adventures in these "bad lands." In particular, his days in North Korea and Iraq are filled with great experiences. This book is highly recommended.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society received much praise when it was published in 2008 and it is easy to understand why it has become such a popular book. During a research trip to England, Mary Ann Shaffer, by chance, read about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey during World War II and became fascinated by that history. Eventually, she wrote this book with the help of her niece Annie Barrows. Using the literary device of letters written among a group of individuals, the aspects of life on Guernsey during the occupation are revealed. The "literary society" was formed as a way residents of the island could meet and seemingly avoid the scrutiny of the German occupiers. At their meetings, they could ban together and remain strong under German rule, which was harsh and cruel at times. Shaffer and Barrows have populated the book with some wonderfully eccentric and lively characters and they make the story come alive. While this reader wanted to know more about war-time Guernsey, this book has many charms and is an interesting reading experience.
The Cajun Cornbread boy A well loved tale spiced up , by Dianne de Las Casas
A retelling of the Gingerbread Boy---Cajun style! Watercolor illustrations by Marita Gentry bring this humorous fractured fairy tale to life. A spicy cornbread boy made from Grand-mére's old skillet (with two chilies for eyes, a peppercorn nose, and a link of boudin for a mouth) escapes from the oven for a journey through the Louisiana back country. It's a humorous romp through the bayou, with the cornbread boy trying to outrun the hungriest of animals while singing "Run, chér, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me--I'm full of cayenne." A recipe for southern cornbread adds a dash of fun for readers. A picture book all ages will enjoy.
Bubble Trouble , by Margaret Mahy
Winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award.
A wonderful read aloud picture book for preschool and early elementary grades. Mabel's baby brother floats away in a bubble and friends and neighbors come to the rescue to help baby back to safety. The rhyming text begs to be read aloud--and children will enjoy the sounds of the words in the story as much as the baby enjoyed his bubble journey in the sky where "[t]he baby didn't quibble. He began to smile and dribble, for he liked the wibble-wobble of the bubble in the air." Illustrations by Polly Dunbar are done in beautiful watercolor and colorful paper cut designs.
Summer Wonders , by Bob Raczka
The colorful illustrations by Judy Stead shout "summer is here!" Raczka's simple text highlights the best of summer---swimming, 4th of July, picnics, climbing trees, building sandcastles, stargazing, capturing fireflies and more. Share the story with toddlers and preschoolers and make the mini ice pops with your little one (recipe included) for a summer's day delight.
Paint the Wind,
by Pam Munoz Ryan
A shocking turn of events finds Maya going to live in Wyoming with her mother's family whom she has not seen since she was a baby. It is a summer of new beginnings, living in a tent, riding horses and learning to get along with a cousin who is an annoying nuisance. Woven into Maya's narrative is the story of a herd of wild horses, including the mare her mother once rode, and whose survival becomes intertwined with Maya's own.